PlayerSearch Blog

by Ted Kasten, Founder of PlayerSearch

Facebook Rolls Out Microsoft Live Search

More information is available at: http://mashable.com/2008/10/07/facebook-live-search/

Many people have been wondering why Microsoft didn’t do this earlier after they inked the advertising deal with Facebook that included an equity stake.  At this point, the search results are no different than what you get outside of Facebook.  I am assuming this is version one and that MSFT and Facebook will track the searching habits of the users over the coming months and eventually begin building in social features to improve the relevance of search results to users based on what their friends are clicking on.  I am not entirely convinced this will dramatically improve search results, but it will be interesting to see someone try.

Another good post on this is here.  According to the math Mark Hendrickson lays out, MSFT needs every user on facebook to make ten searches a month to increase MSFT’s total search queries by 420 million queries or about 42% of the 1 billion queries already being performed on Live Search.  That is a significant figure.  It won’t happen over night, but improved placement will make it easier for people to use and improved search results will make people want to use it.  It is still so easy to go to Google for a search, so MSFT is smart to bring the search tool to the user.

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October 8, 2008 Posted by | Innovations in Search, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Surprise, surprise…Microsoft acquires another search start-up (Powerset)

As everyone knows, Microsoft has publicly stated many times that they are going to be aggressive in their pursuit of Google (with or without Yahoo). They recently announced they are buying Powerset, a “natural language” search engine that recently released its beta product. While the beta product only searched Wikipedia, and the results weren’t any better than Google’s search of Wikipedia, the UI was innovative and they are one step ahead on natural language search which is apparently worth close to $100 million to Microsoft.

After releasing their Beta product, Powerset was at a major decision point of whether to continue to fight the search battle alone or sell to one of the larger search engines. It would have required another $50-$100 million (on top of the $20mm they already raised) to start indexing the entire web themselves and to remain independent. It was certainly a great move to join Microsoft as they have huge incentive and deep pockets to invest heavily in what Powerset started in order to compete with Google. I hope we see Powerset features in live search very soon (they claim some features will roll-out by year end).

Michael Arrington of TechCrunch interviewed the Powerset Founders here.

July 2, 2008 Posted by | Acquisitions, Innovations in Search, Semantic Search | , | Leave a comment

Yahoo: Out of the pot, into the fire

Yahoo, combined with Microsoft, had a fighting chance to compete with Google (not a great chance, but a chance; Google is en route to a dominating monopoly with search advertising, the most lucrative on-line business, just as Microsoft has with Office, the most lucrative desktop business). Now Google owns even more of the on-line advertising market.

Which of these companies should Yahoo be more worried about as a competitor on-line?

Google will surpass Windows in revenue this year and with its rapid growth may surpass Office in revenue in the not-too-distant future.

Google is incredibly smart and just landed a huge win if this passes anti-trust obstacles. Yahoo on the other hand…well, my bet is that this error will soon dwarf the $5.6 billion they wasted on the now defunct Broadcast.com. They just waived the white flag and removed themselves from the most lucrative on-line market ever.

I know there has been a lot of talk about Yahoo partnering with Google to fend off Microsoft or to force Microsoft to pay a little more…I never thought they would actually do it.  It appears Michael Arrington agrees.

Michael Arrington of TechCrunch states that we are all worse off with Yahoo giving up and strengthening Google. That statement is especially true if Microsoft cedes the market to Google and stops pouring billions into their search efforts to compete. I do think Michael underestimates Microsoft’s willingness to continue to fight…these guys are the ultimate competitors…they have been around a long time, fought many battles (operating systems, applications, browsers, games and global anti-trust battles) and unlike Jerry Yang and Yahoo they never give up.

I love Google, but as a search advertiser and founder of a vertical search engine for sports (www.playersearch.com), I will have to cheer for the underdogs to keep a competitive search advertising market with multiple options for advertisers and consumers. I guess I will finally have to sign up for an Ask.com advertising account!

June 13, 2008 Posted by | Google | , | Leave a comment

Microsoft to make “small, targeted acquisitions”

With the recent launch of the first search engine for sports, this was a good way to start the week.  The following is a quote from today’s Wall Street Journal article discussing Microsoft’s new strategy to partner/acquire with Yahoo to compete better with Google.

In an email to employees Sunday, the executive in charge of Microsoft’s online business outlined the company’s online strategy, stating that, among other areas, Microsoft will focus on trying to “disrupt” the search market through new investments, expand its display-ad business through partnerships and make “small, targeted acquisitions.”

“The fact is that we are not where we want to be in this business yet and we’ve been in this position longer than we’d all like,” wrote Kevin Johnson, president of Microsoft’s Platforms & Services Division.

The full article is here.  Microsoft has already made several small, targeted acquisitions over the past 12-24 months of on-line properties, including vertical search engines, to build out its on-line presence.  Even the alpha version of PlayerSearch already provides better search results for sports content than Google, Yahoo Search or Microsoft Live Search currently do (they solve bigger and more complex problems worth billions, but we solve this one small problem a lot better).  We will continue to improve the sports content through key industry partnerships with existing partners with our Draft Analyzer product as well as new partners.  This comment by one of the top executives at Microsoft is a key reason why a lot of companies are innovating within the search space and why a lot of capital is being invested in these companies…there are a handful of key companies with insanely deep pockets waiting to acquire the companies that get it right.

May 19, 2008 Posted by | Acquisitions | | Leave a comment

Microsoft makes acquistions to grow presence in key verticals

Mashable has reported that Microsoft has acquired Farecast.com (travel website that predicts the price of airline tickets so users know when to buy at the cheapest price…what a great idea!). Microsoft has made public its intention of acquiring websites in key verticals to expand its advertising networks potential. Certainly a good sign for vertically focused websites with a unique offering to users that is able to build a large enough audience to get the attention of the big media players like Microsoft/MSN.

The rumored purchase price was $115 million. With about 1 million unique visitors according to Compete.com, that places a hefty valuation of 115x monthly visitors. A similar merger in the on-line travel vertical was completed at a valuation of 100x monthly visitors. To put that in perspective, Google paid 23x monthly visitors for YouTube and News Corp paid 7.3x monthly visitors for MySpace. The key difference is that the on-line travel sites are able to monetize that traffic a lot more (CPMs for travel sites are among the industries higest). Also, keep in mind that YouTube had enormous traffic but didn’t have a proven business model…and the CPMs on MySpace are apparently in the nickel and dime range (among the lowest of any site).

April 18, 2008 Posted by | Acquisitions, Vertical Ad Networks | , | Leave a comment